How to Get Help Buying a Home in San Francisco


San Francisco's expensive housing market is the city's worst-kept secret.

What's happening: A lesser-known secret is that San Francisco has a variety of programs for first-time homebuyers with low to moderate incomes, including ones that help residents with downpayment assistance.

Why it matters: Coming up with funds to make a downpayment is one of the biggest barriers to homeownership.

💭 Our thought bubble: Megan here. In 2019, I received $375,000 in down-payment assistance from the city as part of San Francisco's Downpayment Assistance Loan Program (DALP).

  • The no-interest, 30-year deferred loan enabled me to buy a market-rate one-bedroom condo that I otherwise would not have been able to afford.
  • This year, I sold that condo, paying back the city and enabling them to lend that money to another household.

"[These programs] are an important part of ensuring equitable and achievable homeownership," Anne Stanley, a spokesperson with the mayor's office of housing, told Axios via email.

By the numbers: From July 2021 through June 2022, the DALP program helped 67 low- to moderate-income households, resulting in the distribution of more than $19.9 million, according to the mayor's office of housing.

  • Between 2022 and 2024, the program anticipates serving up to 70 households.

Of note: The DALP program has only served five Black people in the last five to six years, Saidah Leatutufu-Burch, the director of the city's Dream Keeper Initiative (DKI), told Axios.

  • She said the DALP program doesn't serve a large Black population for a few reasons, including the program's lottery system that randomizes who gets the financial aid.
  • But Leatutufu-Burch said that some within the Black community also haven't applied because they feel they don't belong, and that's partly what prompted the creation of DKI, a city initiative to reinvest $60 million annually into S.F.'s Black community.
  • Since launching in 2021, DKI has already helped 19 Black people purchase homes in the city through its own down-payment assistance program.

What they're saying: Leatutufu-Burch said it's important that city programs are accessible to a wide variety of people when talking about "creating a home in San Francisco or planting roots in San Francisco, as well as building some level of housing stability in San Francisco."

Between the lines: Despite these housing programs geared toward first-time homebuyers, there's still the issue of S.F.'s housing shortage.

What to watch: The mayor's office of housing plans to open applications for the 2023 DALP program soon. You can get email alerts by signing up here.



Work With Jason

Drawing on his decade of experience in finance, investment management, and holistic financial planning, and as a Chartered Financial Analyst ( CFA ® ) charterholder, he leverages his financial acumen and analytical focus to help his clients navigate the sophisticated San Francisco market.
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